The art of marketing to the gullible.

How did we end up drinking fizzy drinks laced with sugar, eating deep fried foods at every opportunity, believing that chocolate bar with nuts and raisins was good for us? How do we borrow more money than we can afford, buy products with global logos on for much more than they’re worth and give our kids graphically animated games that ‘shut them up’?

How can leaders of countries make their ‘people’ believe in their actions, buy into their rhetoric and be manipulated to follow their lead? Governments using media to tell the electorate this is how it is, huge brands hiding the truth behind deforestation and the global impact their ingredients have.

How? We’re gullible?

It’s in our nature to trust, we believe empirical observations over cold hard facts, we want everything to be fluffy and sparkly. I’ve seen the facebook post of the woman in the supermarket that doesn’t believe the chicken breasts come from a live animal.

In the 18th Century Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid suggested that humans have a natural propensity to be trusting…

The wise and beneficent Author of Nature, who intended that we should be social creatures, and that we should receive the greatest and most important part of our knowledge by the information of others, hath, for these purposes, implanted in our natures two principles that tally with each other. The first of these principles is, a propensity to speak truth, and to use the signs of language, so as to convey our real sentiments. This principle has a powerful operation, even in the greatest liars; for where they lie once, they speak truth a hundred times. Truth is always uppermost, and is the natural issue of the mind. It requires no art or training, no inducement or temptation, but only that we yield to a natural impulse. Lying, on the contrary, is doing violence to our nature; and is never practised, even by the worst men, without some temptation.

So with this in mind how do we see the world? At the time of writing this we have leading UK politicians blatantly lying but being believed, we have very educated people buying products that are actively contributing to global warming, we have one of the most dangerous men in the world being followed and voted for by legions of adoring fans (and I’m not talking about North Korea)

Are we that stupid? Luckily I don’t think we are, I think we’re just too lazy to give a shit in most cases. We are individuals so surely we can’t make a difference? If I stop buying that sugary drink will that shut the company down? If I stop buying that shampoo will the tree felling stop?

We are buying more and more packaging every day, bottling water from a tap and charging 1000% more than it’s cost. People buying ‘portions’ of oats because it’s ‘simple’ even though the cost difference is astonishing. Sorry, you’re being lazy, buy a big bag and use a big spoon. Have you ever seen how much is in a 60p bag of crisps? Really, have you? Empty it out on a plate you’ll be amazed. My kids are desperate for ‘happy meals’ because they care more about the piece of plastic ‘toy’ than they do the nutritional contents. (Term loosely used). I’ve been on a low cholesterol diet so had to cut out my beloved butter but then I did some research into margarine. I was pretty astonished to find this is the process to make it.

Vegetable oils are extracted from corn, cottonseed, soybeans or safflower seeds. Hexane, an organic compound commonly used as a solvent, is used in the extraction process.
The oil is steam cleaned to remove most impurities. Steaming also destroys vitamins and antioxidants.
Hydrogen gas is bubbled through liquid oil in the presence of a catalyst (usually nickel). This forces unsaturated fatty acids to become saturated and solid. The more complete the hydrogenation process, the firmer the finished product. Margarine undergoes partial hydrogenation, to make it semi-solid. Partial hydrogenation produces lumpy grey grease and results in the formation of trans-fats.
Emulsifiers are added to remove lumps; bleach to remove the grey colour.
A second steam cleaning removes chemical odours.
Synthetic vitamins, artificial colours and a natural yellow colour are added. The final product is packaged as a healthy alternative to butter.

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Get that last line! The final product is packaged as a healthy alternative to butter.

We are amazing marketers; we perform magic tricks on the world, we seek out the gullible and take their hard earned money. It’s really dead simple.

The good news however is that we have this ability in our hands to do this magic, to make people believe what we tell them, to make a difference to peoples perception of the brands we work on. We know that humans will believe us so go forth and make a difference, tell a few stories, and slap a nice sticker on it.

Bottom line is that branding and marketing makes the world do things differently, it can melt ice caps, it can change leaderships of global superpowers, it can make you eat solvents and synthetics and believe it’s good for you. It can also do good things too, make people donate millions to charities, help people eat healthier, join global movements and buy products that actually are good for you. We have it in our hands to do this, it’s scary but it’s reality.

Humans aren’t gullible, they are trusting and unfortunately some people take advantage of that and make a killing… literally.

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